The Master of Public Administration (MPA) degree program is offered by the USC Sol Price School of Public Policy (“Price School”) at the University of Southern California. The program trains students to be leaders who will solve today’s critical social problems. It connects extensive research to real-world solutions to help graduates navigate a modern, interconnected socioeconomic and political environment. Students learn to demonstrate leadership while managing tough financial, leadership, human resource and project/program management problems.
USC is one of the nation’s leading research universities, and the Price School is a major contributor to that reputation. Price faculty rank third at USC in terms of per capita research grants, conducted through more than a dozen research centers, institutes and initiatives. The Online MPA program links the cutting-edge research to the practice of public policy and management to prepare graduates to be innovators and leaders in the field.
The USC Master of Public Administration program is a unique and multidisciplinary environment within the Price School that integrates all the major disciplines bearing on management and leadership in the modern, interconnected socioeconomic and political environment. The program connects cutting-edge research to the practice of public policy and management, equipping students with the skills required for all the challenges and opportunities of the ever-changing nature of public administration—sound management, analytical, and policy-making skills.
The contemporary curriculum of the USC Price online MPA program is designed to train students to take cutting-edge research about organization and social processes, combine it with practical experience and apply it to craft and execute successful problem-solving strategies. The program imparts students with a number of key skills: first, strong analytic capabilities to understand how to define and solve problems; second, political acumen to understand how to implement plans, given the organization and political constraints of the public sector; and third, excellent communication skills to be able to convince political actors and the broader stakeholders of the merit of your ideas.
Analytic capabilities without political leadership or communication skills lead to great plans that are never implemented. On the other hand, political or communication skills, in the absence of analytic capabilities, lead to great-sounding programs that don’t achieve their desired ends. In the online MPA, students are trained to have the whole package. It’s the combination of these analytic, leadership and communication skills that create truly successful public managers.
A major part of the philosophy of the online Master’s in Public Administration is to create a community of learning, where students have multiple opportunities to learn from the faculty and each other. To that end, the program is unique in that it includes two residency components, one at the beginning of the program and one at the end. Students will meet for an intensive class session over a weekend at one of a small number of locations throughout the United States where they will meet their faculty and fellow classmates face-to-face.
The introductory residency will include a brief orientation to Price and the MPA program online, and the career services available to students. Students will also have the opportunity to meet with local alumni. The second residency occurs the week before graduation, in the form of a capstone event involving a number of presentations and studios, where students get to share their best work with others.
These residences will allow online students the opportunity to develop and solidify relationships with fellow students and alumni, reinforcing the professional networks for which the Price School is well-known.
The USC Price School is renowned for both its capacity to apply expertise from multiple fields to a single issue and the depth of its contributions from each field. Its research provides vital data to important academic disciplines and helps shape real-world solutions.
Price faculty rank third at USC in terms of per capita research grants—a reflection of both faculty productivity and the quality of research. The USC Price research centers are actively examining today’s major issues; governance, economic development, philanthropy, immigration, sustainability, national security, transportation, population and healthcare. Students who are civic-minded and passionate about social change have the opportunity to participate in an environment renowned for cutting-edge public service research and application.
The combination of the curriculum structure and research-based learning satisfy the key outcomes of the online MPA degree program—building both fundamental skills necessary for long-term success and learning about new, modern subject areas.
Click here to see work samples by current students or graduates in USC’s MPA program.
The USC Price School has 60 full-time faculty members—distinguished, award-winning scholars and professionals with a common commitment to research and teaching. The faculty includes: a Nobel Prize winner in economics; the Assistant Secretary for Policy Development and Research at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; and six professors who have been elected as fellows to the National Academy of Public Administration, a nonpartisan organization chartered by Congress to help public organizations improve their effectiveness.
Their diverse disciplinary backgrounds and areas of research interest include economics, international relations, urban planning, organizational behavior, philosophy, political science, psychology, public administration, public policy, sociology and social ethics. The faculty are leading thinkers about public sector problems, publishing dozens of articles and books every year and active participants in public debates through being interviewed by the media, writing offers, testifying to Congress and other legislative bodies and heading up commissions. They’re at the frontier of what research is all about, reviewing the most current ways of thinking in terms of how to deal with real problems. The education received at Price School is constantly enriched by the service experiences of their professors.
USC Price Online Master’s of Public Administration students come from many demographic groups and professional backgrounds. Regardless of circumstances or credentials, they share our common goals:
The USC Master of Public Administration online degree program focuses on public entrepreneurship. The capacity for leadership is especially important in a world of rapid change, where the future will be unlike the past and present. In such a world, successful managers must be able to forge relationships among neighborhoods, businesses, nonprofit organizations and city hall. Successful management in the public sector requires a capacity to integrate regional and local considerations and the ability to achieve desired outcomes within a complex tapestry of intergovernmental fiscal pressures, regulations and the political process. The program equips students with the tools to create new solutions to public problems—critical thinking, analytical reasoning, leadership and problem solving. The Price School is ranked 6th in Public Management/Administration, and students benefit from a teaching community that is at the forefront of research and real-world solutions. Their motto is knowledge in action—they train students to take cutting-edge research about organization and social processes, combine it with practical experience, and apply it to craft and execute successful problem-solving strategies.
No matter how complicated it may be to obtain the legal designation of a nonprofit, at their core is a common thread of service. Nonprofits like the Red Cross, Teach for America, Amnesty International and United Way are among the most recognized, but there are more than 1.6 million NPOs in the United States alone.
Leadership and vision are required in every sector of public administration, but nonprofit management has its own unique challenges. Interacting with boards and intersectoral stakeholders, fundraising and marketing, and volunteer and human resource management are issues with particular considerations distinctive to nonprofits. The USC Master of Public Administration online program directly addresses these concerns in its Nonprofit Management specialization. Students and graduates of the USC Master in Public Administration have access to a wealth of NPO resources, including research centers like the Center on Philanthropy and Public Policy. And with Price alumni in just about every major U.S. metropolitan area, plus internationally, MPA graduates can find support for their efforts nearly everywhere they look.
Members of the U.S. military join for a variety of reasons as diverse as the members themselves. But at its core, the military is grounded in service for a greater good; personal sacrifice in the interest of protecting a way of life. The military breeds discipline, confidence and leadership wrapped in a code of ethics. This combination is well-suited for civilian life as a public servant working in the “business” of government.
Much like military professionals, graduates of the USC Master’s of Public Administration program are unique in that they don’t just want the world to be a better place; they take an active, collaborative role in making it so. They “roll up their sleeves” and jump right in. The program teaches its students to deal professionally in tough situations under pressure, with public service the undercurrent goal. And it trains them to think for themselves when designing solutions to those situations; not just to not to necessarily take a prescribed methodology, but to be entrepreneurial—be a leader, think innovatively, take a risk, accept responsibility.
For military professionals seeking to enter the public or private sectors after their term of service the MPA can be the key to a successful civilian career.
In today’s world of dynamic change and globalization, social challenges have become increasingly complex. Solving society’s most pressing issues—including sustainability and the environment, healthcare reform, immigration, infrastructure, urban development, social planning and policy, affordable housing and governance—requires innovation and collaboration. These issues call for leaders who are able to move beyond their areas of expertise and work across the public, private and nonprofit sectors to find vital solutions.
Thank you for your interest in the USC Master of Public Administration online program.
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